Category Archives: Middle Eastern Food

Wafa’s in Forest Hills: Go for the Terrific Middle Eastern Home Style Cooking

 

Wafa Chami, chef at Wafa's, Forest Hills, Queens. Photo: Laura B. Weiss

There’s been quite a lot of buzz about Wafa’s lately, the homey Middle-Eastern eatery on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills. Mostly, the talk’s been about Wafa’s baba ghanoush, but there’s a lot more to this modest establishment than its savory eggplant dip.

There’s nothing fancy about Wafa’s.  The room is small and plain and it’s mostly families and locals who frequent the place. Wafa Chami, a Lebanese native who came to the US in 1975 when she was 17, presides over the kitchen. And it’s a wondrous kitchen at that.  Covering her blond hair with a baseball cap, Chami hunches over the stove preparing kibbe, falafel and a parade of other dishes.  In fact, out of the small space, more compact than many home kitchens, comes some of the best Middle-Eastern food in the city.

If it feels like you’re eating at someone’s kitchen table, that’s because you are, indeed, eating Chami’s home cooking.

“I grew up in Lebanon, and these are all family recipes from my mother,” Chami told me one night when we decided to stop by Wafi’s for dinner after a stroll through lovely Forest Hills Gardens. “They’re old family recipes, from my mother, from my grandmother, from one generation to the next.”

Not only is the food sensational at Wafa’s, it’s an incredible deal.  Four of us ate a multi-course dinner for under $100. The kibbe, moist and delicately spiced, was a steal at $8.00.  I fell hard for the grape leaves—not your typical dry-as-sawdust cylinders, but moist and so flavorful that at $6.00 for a half-dozen of the succulent morsels, I didn’t hesitate to get two more orders.  Piggy, yes. But they were simply the best gape leaves I’ve ever eaten.

Other dishes that scored high among our group were the fattoush ($8), and the chicken ($12.95) and lamb ($13.95) schawerma. The meats come with two sides.  You can choose from any two of the following: green salad, okra, mujadarah, tabouleh, mousakaha, baba ganoush, French fries, and cauliflower.

The word has spread about Wafa’s.  We got there at 6 pm to beat the mob.  By 630, there was already a scrum of hungry fans waiting for a table to open up.

Wafa’s
100-05 Metropolitan Ave Map.6e70ca7
New York, NY 11375
718 880 2055

 

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedInShare on RedditFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on Tumblr

Two New Food Trucks: Van Leeuwen Ice Cream on Upper West Side; Taim Launches Truck

Van Leeuwan ice cream truck. Photo: Laura B. Weiss.

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream & Coffee. I know it’s December, and ice cream isn’t top of mind. But Van Van Leeuwan’s is so creamy and delicious, that maybe your could bundle up and treat yourself to this special frozen indulgence.

Pumpkin pie and egg nog are on tap for the season. Also, their new truck with a permanent spot at Tavern on the Green (67th & Central Park West), operating daily from 8am-6pm, will be serving coffee and espresso drinks.

Other daily ice cream specials will include vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two Michel Cluizel chocolate chip cookies smothered in hot fudge, Ricotta Pound cake with ginger ice cream and caramel sauce, and a gianduja meringue sundae, the company reports.

And with seating in the Tavern’s food court for over 200, you can enjoy some of the comforts of a traditional eatery.

Twitter: @VLAIC

Green Falafel, Tiam, New York. Photo:

Taim Falafel and Smoothy Bar. Taim, the hole-in-the wall falafel place in the West Village, with its crunchy yet tender falafels, is rolling city-wide. Just three days ago, they launched their first truck.

Taim Falafel Food Truck Starts Rolling through New York. Photo: Taim.

The mobile unit will feature items like their signature green falafel and to-die-for, rich-beyond-rich, date-banana-lime smoothies.

Will they show up on the Upper West Side, a natural consistiuency for their food?

Assan Malik, who works at Taim restaurant, says that the truck may well journey to the Upper West Side.

“It will be” there “at some point,” he said, “but we don’ know when.”

The schedule is decided every morning, so check their twitter feed: @TaimmMobile.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedInShare on RedditFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on Tumblr

Upper West Side Restaurants: Falafel, Druze Restaurants Turn Neighborhood Into a Middle Eastern Mecca

Soom Soom. Photo: Laura B. Weiss

If you want falafel or maybe something more exotic from the Middle East, the Upper West Side is sprouting an array of joints to help you sample cuisines from around the region.

Soom Soom, which opened recently on 72nd Street just east of Broadway is a falafel lovers delight. The golden orbs are perfectly fried, then tucked into loaves of pillowy pita. Best of all is the salad bar-like set up which allows you to pile your falafel high with all the veggies and sauces—not to mention endless tahini—that make a falafel a meal in itself.

I went wild at the salad bar—to the point that my sandwich was really a tower of  toppings with the falafel shoved into the bottom of the pita almost as an afterthought.

Also new to the neighborhood is a restaurant serving up Druze cuisine. Another Gazala Place, which already has an eatery in Hell’s Kitchen, is to be situated at 380 Columbus Avenue, near 78th Street, Grub Street reports. Druze dishes are similar to those found in other Middle Eastern countries, but instead of pita, the Druze use a thin crepe called sagg.

Not on the Upper West Side, but yearning for a great falafel?

Click here for Serious Eats’ Best Falafel list.

Soom Soom

166 West 72nd Street
New York, NY
212 712 2525

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedInShare on RedditFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on Tumblr

Upper West Side: Hummus Place Opens on Broadway

Are you yearning for some Middle Eastern grub? Hummus Place has just opened a branch at 2608 Broadway, between 98th and 99th hummus-placestreets. Yelpers generally give the spot generally high marks. I’ve eaten at the one on Amsterdam between 74th and 75th, but honestly, I can’t remember what the food was like.

If you present the coupon they mailed out recently, Hummus Place is offering a free appetizer with an order of hummus for $5.95, good until Sept. 30.

Anyone have any opinions about this place?

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedInShare on RedditFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on Tumblr